Monday, July 18, 2016

News In A Post-TMZ World

I watched a couple of on-air interviews yesterday, with George Stephanopolous interviewing Donald Trump and his campaign manager, and Leslie Stahl, interviewing Trump with his running mate, Pence. When Trump's campaign manager told George that "Hillary created ISIS," George started to challenge the accusation, to which the surrogate said, "I'm not going to go down that road with you." And the subject was dropped. And when Stahl tried to press on one of Trump's many accusations of Hillary, he merely talked over her, and she allowed the subject to be changed.

 I worry as much about the decline of real journalism as I do about the rise of bullies who would lie, threaten, bully, and frighten their way into public office, because journalists who are brave enough to demand truth are our single best weapon against tyrants.

 I worry that younger generations have never seen the likes of a Walter Cronkite, or seen a reminder of what freedom of the press is supposed to stand for. I wish we had someone like Edward R. Murrow, who dared stand up to Joseph McCarthy - my generation's Trump - and expose him for what he truly was. As Murrow said:

 “It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one, and the junior senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between the internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

 Next time you're asked to sign a petition, consider instead starting or signing one that will *not* fall on deaf ears, directed to those media owners and executives who control what will be covered, said, and accepted as truth. Because the harsh truth is that your viewership means infinitely more to media bigwigs than your vote means to elected officials. And that desperately needs to be reversed.
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